to going places
Summer trips: Virginia Lighthouses
lighthouse was first built in 1833 but was inadequate. It was partially
rebuilt in 1866, with a first-order Fresnel lens added. The lighthouse
now uses twin rotating beacons and the Fresnel lens is being restored
for permanent display at the Oyster and Maritime Museum in Chincoteague.
Its beacon can be seen 19 miles out to sea. Painted in red and white horizontal
stripes around 1965, this brick tower reaches 145 feet in height and has
a focal plane of 154 feet above sea level. The spiral staircase has 172
Assateague Lighthouse stands in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge,
adjacent to the Assateague Island National Seashore, and warns ships of
treacherous shoals that lie off the barrier islands. Although the public
can visit the site the structure itself is not normally open for touring.
It is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and remains an active aid to navigation.
There is a small fee to enter the refuge.
Telephone: (757) 336-6155
24th Street and Boardwalk
situated in the adjacent 24th Street Park and rotated 90 degrees. This
is one of the last surviving Coast Guard Life Saving Stations in Virginia.
It was located between the Cape Henry Station and the Dam Neck Mills Station
(both no longer exist). In later years it was called the Virginia Beach
Station. Currently, it is known as the Old Coast Guard Station Museum
and Gift Shop.
The Old Coast Guard Station is housed in a 1903 Life-Saving / Coast Guard
Station. There are two floors of exhibits. The old boat room, the Lower
Gallery, tells the story of the Life-Saving Service. Exhibits show rescue
equipment and methods and change regularly.
Telephone: (757) 422-1587
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Off Route 60
lighthouse was the first authorized by the First U.S. Congress. It is
the third oldest lighthouse still standing in the U.S. and is the oldest
on the Chesapeake Bay. The lighthouse is a 90-foot octagonal sandstone
tower and is not painted. In 1857 a first-order Fresnel lens was added
and a brick lining was built inside the tower for reinforcement. Confederate
raiders destroyed the lens, but it was replaced in 1863. In 1870 the tower
began to crack and a replacement was built.
It was finally decommissioned in 1881, and the new lighthouse was built
only 357 feet to the southeast. The military built a small bunker under
the hill on which the lighthouse stands. You can see the entrance to the
bunker on the back side facing away from the beach. In 1928 the Army used
the lighthouse as an observation post. The lighthouse is open to the public
and is maintained by the Association
for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.
Old Point Comfort
lighthouse overlooks the entrance of Hampton Roads and is the second oldest
on the Chesapeake. Built in 1802, the lighthouse is a 54-foot octagonal
stone tower. The staircase inside is completely made of stone. It was
automated in January 1973 and has a 12 second flashing light with red
and white sectors. The keeper’s house is currently a private residence.
British troops briefly captured the lighthouse and used it as a watch
tower during the War of 1812. The lighthouse once had a fog bell. The
lighthouse is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and is not open to the
public, but it can be viewed from the street.
Virginia Department of Tourism; www.oldcoastguardstation.com; U.S. Coast